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Portraits of Hollywood

It’s more important to understand someone than to judge them. We think the first step to understanding someone is asking them the fundamental questions about who they are and how they became the person they are today. Understanding and empathy are essential building blocks for a better, more compassionate world. We’re incredibly fortunate to be able to ask these questions each week through our interview series. Below you’ll find inspiring interviews from in and around Hollywood.

Vedant Chavan

My journey in filmmaking started as a curious kid trying to figure out how a camera is able to freeze a moment in time, giving you the ability to go back to that moment anytime in your lifetime. My mother bought me a camera when I was 14 years old and there was no looking back. I started with photography at first and very soon got to shooting short videos of my own and then music videos with my friends. Little did the kid know that this would be an endless exploration. I got together with my cousins, my friends to create something or the other and very soon I established a good profile to start working professionally. Read more>>

Rachel Lindsay

It is hard for me to capture my story but I will try my best to give you the short version. My story started out traditional and then took a sharp turn off the beaten path. I was born and raised in Dallas, Texas. I had a very pragmatic, religious, and loving upbringing. I was always encouraged to be an independent thinker. I am a middle child and that speaks to my personality and life choices. But I was always also raised to live my life within certain boundaries. Read more>>

Kristen Vaganos

I am an actor and producer originally from a Greek-American family in the suburbs outside Philadelphia. I began acting when as a child, your parents sign you up for everything and the sports simply didn’t stick… My hand-eye coordination isn’t really there and aside from cheerleading and gymnastics, which I did love growing up, theatre was the only extracurricular that really excited me. I felt so at home in a place where I could be playful and imaginative and also have all eyes on me, but ONLY when I was in character as someone else. Before I knew it, I was taking the train into center city every day for acting classes, theatre productions, and eventually auditions. Read more>>

Mutlu Ozturk

My interest in visual arts started at around the age of ten with my parents’ VHS camera. My older brother and I shot several short films on that. None of them should be seen, of course. I studied Graphic Design and Photography in high school, but it was not until I met with the darkroom that I decided to become a photographer. I spent a lot of time in the darkroom, developing films, prints… Seeing the organic journey of a picture was truly mesmerizing. After witnessing that, I don’t think I had any other choice. Read more>>

Cassidy Davis

I started my Chaotic Singles Business kind of accidentally… I was tragically single in LA for the last five years and I just got sick of it. So last Valentine’s Day I told my single friends to invite a random man from a dating app to my house for a mega first date house party. And they did! We had about 40 random guys show up and it was so fun! I recorded videos from the night (including some bathroom confessionals) and I put it all up on TikTok. Millions of views and several news headlines later, the singles in LA were asking me to throw another party. Read more>>

Katie Enright

I started Lavinia by accident. My original intent was to study theology and become a nun, but sometimes life happens and shows us a different path. I was training for a marathon and started incorporating cannabis in my recovery, in particular I was making recovery balms. I was doing tons of research and I learned cannabis is a vasodilator—which means it increases blood flow. I also learned you could use it to enhance a sexual situation. Read more>>

Devon Gabriella

I started singing with my dad when I was a toddler. He still has recordings of me making up rhymes and singing along to jingles. Around the age of eight, my sister, friend and I formed a girl band called “Second Sun”. We performed at every local talent show you could think of. We were all dancers as well, so it was like the Chipettes in real life. As cliché as it sounds, I was indescribably happy whenever I was on stage. As I headed into middle school, I decided I wanted to start posting covers on Instagram. My friend and I would run to the park, she would film me singing Miley Cyrus songs, and I would post videos upon videos. Read more>>

Bruna Bertossi

I am an International model, actress, and writer. I have dedicated my life to pursuing my passions and making my dreams come true. Born and raised in Sao Paulo, Brazil, I discovered my love for the arts at a young age and began studying theatre at the age of nine. Despite being raised by a single mother and facing numerous challenges in my life, I never let go of my dreams and worked tirelessly to achieve my goals. After graduating in Foundation Art drama in São Paulo-Brazil in 2010, I continued to pursue my passion for the arts. Read more>>

Jesse Armstrong

As long as I can remember, I’ve been fascinated by house design, decor, and architecture. I grew up in a beach community about 60 miles north of Los Angeles during a housing boom. That’s probably why I love a good 70-80s turn-of-the-decade beach house. My dad and I would collect scrap lumber at building sites and make blocks. I spent hours with my building blocks, decorating with dollhouse furniture from my grandma. I also drew a lot–cars and then house plans for fun. After attending FIDM, I started my own interior design firm, Fisher Fairmount Design. Read more>>

Jessica Ruby

I started my career at 17 years old in New York City I went to school in union square. I randomly met this girl and she introduced me to this really cool fun salon. All the salons I had gone to check out were so boring and had a dress code. This salon everyone had tattoos and the vibes were amazing. I went thru an intense 4-year training program where I had to go on the streets of NYC and find 4 hair models to practice on a week. I worked there for 10 years. I was one of their top stylus and had educators. Read more>>

Whiskey Shotz

Going back to my roots as a musician and composer, all my friends were musicians and played in bands in Los Angeles. I would go to their shows at night to shoot photos of their concerts and take pics of us all having a good time. Concert photography has a lot of challenges with movement and lighting, so it was a lot of good practice to build a foundation on, and I loved every minute of it.  So a shout out to all my musician friends following their dreams and living the hustle to do what they love. Read more>>

Austin Alexander

Actually, I’d love to lead with where my career is at the time of this interview — I can currently be seen playing the role of “Trapp” opposite Will Smith in Antoine Fuqua’s “Emancipation” streaming on Apple TV+ — am I name dropping in the first sentence of this interview? Absolutely. Obviously, I am an actor by trade — what most in the industry refer to as a “journeyman actor” — not a name yet, but steadily building a reputation in the industry for having an admirable body of work and portraying compelling and complex characters. Read more>>

Aoshuang Zhang

I’m a theater and film set designer currently based in New York. I grew up in the landlocked central Chinese province of Shaanxi and came to scenic design somewhat accidentally. I pursued painting outside the rigors of the Chinese high school system and had hoped to enroll as a fine arts student at the university. Ultimately, however, I fell into Set Design at the Beijing Central Academy of Drama and haven’t looked back. Read more>>

Carla McCullough

I was born and raised on the Southside of Chicago, Illinois. After finishing Mother McAuley High School I wanted to continue my single-gender education experience and I was blessed to get into Spelman College in Atlanta. My experiences at these phenomenal schools really shaped the woman that I am today as I was able to train in leadership and theater at both institutions. Read more>>

Taylor Mckinnon

I found myself homeless in LA around eight years ago. I just hit rock bottom, the world felt too much and I had completely given up on myself. I was offered a space at the Dream Center. I had a lot of trust issues which really stemmed from my childhood, I think so many of us feel that weight which leads us to reacting out of fear, self-sabotaging and hurting those closest to us. Deep down I could still feel my heart asking me not to give up so I accepted the help, something I was never good at and something that really changed my life. Read more>>

Talita Maia

I was born and raised in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. My passion for film began at an incredibly young age. As a child I loved all forms of art – I played the piano, danced ballet, and sang. I still remember our family movie nights, when I was just a little girl and got to see movies that would transport me to this magical realm like “Labyrinth”, “Edward Scissorhands”, “The Goonies” and many more and that really showed me the power of movies and from there on that was my dream. The combination of my love for film and theater influenced the career path I’m pursuing. Read more>>

Jacqueline Jance

The combination of Sourcing and Art background landed me in Real Estate. I represent sellers and buyers mostly. As part of my business, I procure homes with a partner. These are homes that traditional buyers can’t finance due to the condition of the home. It’s really fun to consult on what practical systems the home needs and would benefit new buyers. The idea is to recreate spaces that don’t leave buyers out of the market. Read more>>

Lindsay Vogel

My name is Lindsay Vogel, and I am the founder of the boutique digital marketing agency, Digital Traffik Agency. I started DTA with a personal passion for creative marketing and sales. Throughout my years I have had many different careers trying to figure out what is my #1 passion. I realized that in all careers I constantly did the same thing, which was helping people with creative marketing ideas, putting business plans together for them to help their business grow or launch, and/or providing a service or product that brought them joy. I figured, why not just open up my own agency where I can integrate all of my passions. Read more>>

Melisa Lopez

My interest in the arts started early in life during elementary school. At the age of 9, my maternal aunt would take me to her university drama classes. I would dream of someday growing up to be an actor like she was. However, it would take a long road traveled to finally get to a place where I can start seeking out my dream of becoming an actor. Looking back on my life, the road has been curvy and accentuated with periods of reinventing myself. I was a late bloomer in all things dealing with careers. The one area I got an early start on was motherhood. I started a family at the age of 20. Read more>>

FredWreck

I started out in my musical journey through the birth of hip hop. Breakdancing with my friends led me into Djing and Producing music. From there I Djed on the radio 92.3 The Beat on The Wake Up Show which allowed me to play my beats and remixes on the radio. This gave me the opportunity to meet artists and record company people that I could give my songs and beats to. Networking with artists and people in the industry gave me the chance to meet people like Snoop and Dr. Dre who were both starting their own record companies and journey into becoming more independent as artists and having control of the music they release. Read more>>

Jeromy Rosa

I first started acting in high school doing plays like Fame and Seussical, I also participated in Drama/Shakespeare Monologue competitions. I decided to pursue an acting career during the pandemic because I wasn’t content with how my life was at the moment. I thought about if maybe I had passed away from Covid would I be content with how my life panned out and the brutally honest answer to that was no. I really had to dig deep and think about what I wanted out of life during quarantine and I just decided to go after my dream and not care about the third-party perspective on it. Read more>>

Zachary Reality

I have always loved being a storyteller and making people laugh. I have also always loved reality tv since I was 6 six years old and starting watching survivor. Growing up in theater, I knew I was always a creative and when I got to college, and starting taking classes to find out what I wanted to do after school, I fell in love with Journalism. I graduated with my Bachelor’s in Communications and Media Studies with a focus in Broadcast Journalism from Caldwell University back in 2019. I made the move to Los Angeles, from New York shortly after to pursue my career in entertainment. Read more>>

Helena Maria Falk

My love of music started early when I was 6 years old and went to a classical orchestra concert for the first time. I remember seeing some older girls in the orchestra playing violin and looking so joyful, and I thought I wanted to be just like them. Since I grew up in the countryside of Norway, without TV and far from my friends, there was a lot of free time. All I did as a kid after school was practice and read books about classical composers, and then I began to write down small melodies I composed myself. I was totally hooked! Read more>>

Aron Cagan

It started with a little kid who loved to entertain or perform for anybody who would watch. I’d act out these little skits or reenact a scene from a movie I had just watched. There are so many embarrassing videos of me on a DVD somewhere. It eventually led to my dream of becoming an actor, which I pursued all throughout high school. I landed a few student films and commercials but that was about it. Read more>>

Dylan Kendall

Who remembers Hollywood in the 90s? I was in my 20s and bartending at the Gaslight/Opium Den. There were only 2 women behind the bar so odds are good, if you found the hidden bar on a side street in the heart of deserted, blighted Hollywood, I was your bartender. I was a college dropout. I turned the bedroom of my Los Feliz apartment into a ceramics studio, asked the drummer of DEVO to install a kiln in my dining room, and slept on the couch. For years the only activity that kept me from flying off the rails was coming home from the club, lighting a cigarette, and diving my hands into clay. I taught myself everything from soup to nuts and in a few years had these crazy, scary ceramic sculptures in galleries in two states. Read more>>

Nicola Rose

I got started as an independent filmmaker in 2015 when I made a web series about an evil puppet. From there I got into more serious filmmaking, but the goal still was (and still is) never to take myself seriously. I made four more short films, comedies and dramas, that got notice on the festival circuit. Then in 2021 I directed and wrote my first feature film, “Goodbye, Petrushka,” which world premiered at Dances With Films at the Chinese Theater in Hollywood and is now streaming on Amazon Prime Video, Tubi and other platforms. Read more>>

Anna Eichenauer

I’ve always been creative so it was clear to me that I wanted to do something creative in my professional life. For a while, I was bouncing back and forth trying to decide between different mediums: acting, music, writing, filmmaking. Everybody was saying that I had to make a choice and that you can only be great one thing. But trying to focus on one thing always led me to feel like something was missing. Now I’m trying to embrace all those mediums of expression. Whatever I need to do, I need to do. As far as getting where I am today, I didn’t go through a lot of traditional schooling but instead focused on freelancing and learning and exploring new skills through online courses and other types of classes. That was challenging in many ways but I don’t regret taking that path. Read more>>

Dethaus

Dethaus is a new Design Art house founded in Los Angeles by Martin Flores, Nicholas Dew, and Jared Poythress. As professionals, we’ve spent the past decade in LA’s music and art scene. Dethaus is an ever-evolving art house that encompasses the spirit of connected storytelling in luxury fashion, music, and contemporary art. The roads aren’t always smooth, but we pave them as we go by studying the designers/artists before us and learning from their obstacles. One of our challenges is balancing our free time with our workflow. Owning a new business is also a challenge in itself, but we try to focus on solutions rather than problems. Read more>>

Natalie Amoils

When my sister got married in March 2022, I couldn’t find the appropriate evening bag for black-tie events and quickly realized there was a gap within the market. I started designing small wristlets and my friends wanted to wear them to weddings and events, too! I started my business on Instagram selling just black and white silk wristlets and then launched my website in December 2022 with several more fabric and color options. All NLA Collection purses are handmade in Los Angeles. As an LA native, this part of my business is extremely important to me. I source all fabric here in LA, too. Read more>>

Marcus Proctor

I would say acting found me when I was seven. I got an insane amount of bullying at school and the mother of a girlfriend of mine ran a youth theatre in my hometown. Her mum knew what I was going through so asked if I’d like to have a look. That first day there, I auditioned for The Emperor’s New Clothes as the Emperor. I overheard the casting lady whisper ‘what a good little actor’ as I was shouting in character (it was part of the script btw, lol). I was hooked. Read more>>

Peiqi Peng

My journey of writing and directing fantasies started when I was around twelve. I had been writing sci-fi stories for children’s magazines since about the third grade, but it was all just materialization of daydreams. Then, when I was twelve, an only child wandering in an often empty Chinese apartment, I started seeing cats coming out from the back of my couch. I saw food bowls, and water fountains, and the cats slinking through the bedroom door. I loved those cats and cared for them. Read more>>

Jade Starling

Jade Starling is an award-winning singer/songwriter. She is the lead singer of the group Pretty Poison. Best known for their #1 Platinum Smash Hit Single “Catch Me I’m Falling.” Jade Starling has had an intriguing life worth reading about. She has sold millions of records and has been awarded both Gold and Platinum records for the hit single, “Catch Me I’m Falling.” In addition, she and her co-songwriter/producer, Whey Cooler have won ASCAP awards in both songwriting and film. Jade is becoming increasingly more popular on social media with the relevance of both past and present musical success and accomplishments. Numerous films and tv shows have included her music. Read more>>

Anthalayaha Savage

I discovered that I can sing when I was about four years old. As a four-year-old not knowing much I knew my interest was in music. One Christmas I remembered getting this mini piano. I noticed the music made me feel a certain way. When I got six years old I started to remember lyrics to RNB. My first song I remember singing was “Me & You” by Cassie. Everyone noticed that my voice was so pretty. Growing up in a church I really didn’t sing the way I wanted cause my mom felt like I was going to outdo everyone. My adoptive parents such as my dad was a pianist/singer and my mom was a singer. Read more>>

Deja Natei

My original dream was to be a model and artist. However, my parents convinced me that wasn’t a career worthwhile where I could make money. So I then set my future goal on becoming a drug dealer! Lol just kidding, I set my goal on becoming a pharmacist. I loved science so I went off to college with my best friends and decided to minor in BioChemistry and major in pre-pharmacy. Read more>>

Nadja Sayej

Nadja Sayej is a culture journalist with over 15 years of experience. She has written for The New York Times, The Guardian, Barron’s Magazine and has an ongoing pop culture and fashion column with Forbes. She currently writes about luxury homes, design and architecture for Architectural Digest, Mansion Global, Propmodo and Leverage.com. Her writing and interviews has also appeared in Harper’s Bazaar, W Magazine, Interview Magazine and Vanity Fair London, where she reported from film festivals, from Venice to New York. Read more>>

Zef Cota

I’m a filmmaker, born in NYC and originally grew up in the Bronx as the first-born kid of Albanian immigrants. Growing up I always loved watching films and dreamed of going to California. I knew that’s where movies were made and it seemed like this mythical place. 2006 was the first year I started coming out here. After eating breakfast my first destination on my first day was going to Amoeba Music. It’s a place I had heard about for years from serious record collectors back in NY. Aside being awestruck from the most amount of vinyl records I had ever seen wall-to-wall in my peripheral vision –they also had a whole floor with an extensive movie collection and books about cinema. My other favorite destination was the Arclight.  Thinking about how good the sound and picture is that dome-shaped movie theater makes me feel tingly inside. Read more>>

Carolina Rodrigues

When I was 19, I started the University of Publicity and Advertising knowing I wanted to be an art director, working in an advertising agency and go from there. And I did for a short period of time. But then, my curious side made me open my horizons moving from advertising agencies to production companies. Then, it seems like my mind opened to new languages and different ways to express my creativity. I was working at one of the most important production companies in Brazil – O2 Filmes, and they presented this amazing and unique universe of cinema, movies and entertainment. Read more>>

Arnav Shah

My journey started early in my school days when I used to take part in elocution competitions. As a 5th grader standing in front of an audience of 200 kids, it felt like the world was my stage. I was not intimidated by the eyes on me. Instead, it felt exhilarating to be able to grab and hold the audience’s attention like that. I reckon that’s when it began and I have not looked back ever since! I got into short films during my undergrad and made a bunch of them. They were definitely not the best, not by a long shot, but it was a good start. I worked my way into small film competitions and won a couple of awards too. In those moments, it felt like I was working towards something bigger. Eventually, I ended up at a good production house in Bombay where we shot numerous commercials for big brands. Read more>>

George Landress

I came out to Los Angeles in the early eighties seeking an opportunity in the music business as a studio musician. Like many struggling musicians I held down odd jobs as well as teaching at a local and very popular music school, the Dick Grove School of Music. I made many friends in the business along the way who helped guide me on my path. There were many tech developments going on in the music business at that time, especially the introduction of the first music computers, Apple and the Atari computer. Although it all seemed exciting, many musicians realized that they were being replaced by computer samples. Like them, I also wondered what my fate would be in the business. Read more>>

Corey “Ice Meez” Byrdsong

I first started pursuing a music career after my mother Gail Byrdsong entered me and my brother in a Black Expo talent show in Indianapolis, Indiana when I was about six years old. Ever since then, I was hooked. It has been relatively smooth but I struggle with the same issues that most artists do. Finding new creative ways to market my music to reach a bigger audience is always difficult. I am a hip-hop artist that has a growing cult-like fan base. Not only do I write my own music but I am also a ghostwriter, Video Director, Graphic Artist and Music engineer. I am most proud of my consistency over the years and the growth I have shown through my craft. Read more>>

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